Going into the procedure I really wasn’t nervous that I’d have a bad result. Based on my research I felt that the worst that would happen is that I’d be left with a similar situation of needing to pencil in brows and be out the $$, but I wasn’t going to end up with a bad irreversible result.
I was provided with instructions including prescriptions for pain pills and antibiotics. I was told that I’d have the option to be given a sedative (Valium if I recall? Not sure.) But that if I took the sedative that I would not be allowed to leave the office on my own. I was travelling alone and really had no worries and wasn’t nervous so I didn’t take a sedative.
The day of the procedure we got off to a slow start…I was waiting for about 2 hours before we got down to business. But it wasn’t a big deal. Dr. Epstein asked if I would like to draw on my eyebrows how I wanted him and I said no, I know I don’t do it very well, and I’d defer to him and his assistant/nurse, Cynthia, to draw what they think would be best with my face and current brows. It didn’t hurt that Cynthia has beautiful brows so I knew I could trust her judgement. Dr. Epstein warned me that no one’s brows are perfectly symmetrical because no one’s face is perfectly symmetrical, so he would obviously try to make them as symmetrical as possible, which he did both by eyeballing it and by using a ruler to compare sides and angles etc. The blue marker did not look pretty, and it was hard to tell what the brows would end up looking like but again I trusted his and Cynthia’s judgement.
Next step was for him to take the strip of hair from the base of my head. He had numbed it so I didn’t feel a thing.
Then I was shown into the room where the procedure would be performed. I was in a standard doctor’s chair that was reclined, and was wearing a hospital gown on top, and a hair mask. Not pretty. Dr. Epstein made all of the holes that the grafts would be inserted into. He took care to angle them and place them in the proper direction to match natural eyebrow growth pattern. Then the nurses, Cynthia and Elsa, set themselves up on either side of my head and started doing their thing, which is one by one inserting grafts into the holes. Dr. Epstein came in to check how things were going a couple times during this time. I didn’t feel anything. It took about 3 hours if I remember correctly, maybe a little less. Although we had agreed upon a price based on estimated number of grafts, I told Dr. Epstein beforehand that I wanted them to be done right, so if he realized more grafts would look better once they got started, that I was willing to pay for more grafts. This is what happened, and he pre-authorized with me a specific amount more of grafts and had me confirm that I approved the added cost. This increased the cost of the procedure from $5k to about $6k…tough even to write that but it is what it is. It occurred to me I could’ve gotten a boob job for that much! Ha.
When they were done, I felt fine, they cleaned me up a bit and I switched into my clothes and headed back to Grand Central to catch my train home. I was aware that I looked like a freak, but figured I’m in New York City, people are used to seeing freaks! Basically, my eyebrows had all the new transplanted hairs but all of the holes/scabs made the whole area look dark. So basically I had medium blonde hair with what looked like big black eyebrows drawn on with a Sharpie. I just sucked it up and got over myself. When I got home I was a little disappointed to realized that my hair in base of my head had old cruddy blood that had stained the neck of the jacket I was wearing. I would have liked if they had washed up that hair a little better before I left. Again, no huge deal.
I had read that sometimes people are “passable” 1-2 days after an eyebrow transplant. This was NOT the case for me! My eyes and forehead were swollen and I bruised a lot. I’m lucky I work from home, but for at least a week had to hide under a hat and not get too close for people to see what I was hiding. So my advice would be to take that into account when you decide how much downtime you will have. Part of it matters if you are OK with telling people about it or if you want to fool everyone. I think people with dark hair could pull it off more, because aside from bruising and swelling, it was the very dark color of my brows/scabs that made me look ridiculous.
I followed post-care instructions, which entailed no water on them for a few days, and then a shower was allowed I think Day 4 or 5 but no direct stream of water on them. Once water could get on them they looked really gross because the tiny dots of “scabs” sort of get water logged and make it look like white soggy dots. You have to be careful to leave everything alone so that the grafts have time to secure themselves to their new home. You don’t want any sliding out or knocked in a different direction.
Aside from looking like a freak, the only discomfort I had was at the source incision on the back of my head. It was sore and annoying to try to sleep on, but I also wanted to sleep on my back so I didn’t accidentally jar any of the eyebrow grafts by mashing my face against a pillow. Even aside from sleeping, the discomfort of the incision on the back of my head remained for a couple of weeks. I was sick of it. Nothing extreme, but it gets old fast.
One trick I learned when I was doing research post-procedure, was a trick that when you are allowed to gently wipe the “scabs” away really helped. This was not part of Dr. Epstein’s instructions, but it worked really really well. Basically you gently wipe KY Lubricating Jelly on your brows, wait for a couple of minutes, then with a fine toothed comb you gently comb the brows in their natural directions, and it helps the little pieces of skin/scabs to gently glide off each hair. You don’t want to pull on the hairs at all, but at the same time the scabs get sort of stuck at the base of the hair, and this worked really well to solve that issue. I did this for several days until all scabs were cleared. So then my eyebrows were not dark-looking anymore, but the new look was the Ronald McDonald look. I mean to say that the skin under the brows was a darkish pink color. That being said, once the scabs were off, the skin was not raw or open in any way anymore, so around that time I could gently swipe some light taupe eyebrow shadow over them. This was when I started looking “passable” and this was one week out. My eyebrows still had a pink tinge to them but I was passable for the most part.
Probably 10-15% of the new hairs seemed to stay, but the rest of the new hairs shed, as I expected. Enough of the new hairs stayed to give me sort of an outline of the new shape of my brows, so I have been using that as a template to fill in with eyebrow shadow. It’s been 2.5 months now, and I continue to fill in my brows with makeup, but it’s needed less and less. Without makeup I would say my brows are at 80% filled in. There is still some thinness in areas, and both brows have gaps toward the head of the brow. Being that I’m not even 3 months out at this point I’m very happy with the progress. I will post updates every couple of months with photos so you can see the progression moving forward. I am happy I did this procedure, but rated it “Not Sure” just because I’m waiting for the final result. I’m quite sure I will be switching this to “Worth It” but $6k is a lot so I’ll defer final judgement for now.